New Jersey Nets (2008/09 Record: 34-48)
Key Additions: Courtney Lee
Key Losses: Vince Carter
Making a salary dump in the offseason, sending Vince Carter to Orlando for the expiring contracts of Rafer Alston, Tony Battie, as well as young two-guard Courtney Lee, shows that the Nets have no intention of competing for the playoffs this year. New Jersey’s sole focus is on paving the way for a significant free agent signing in the Summer of 2010. Thankfully the Nets will have several solid pieces to act as an enticement to free agents.
Point guard Devin Harris has shown an outstanding scoring ability and has developed a reputation as a tenacious defender, earning his first All Star appearance last season.
The Nets also appear to have their future at the center position shored up with 7 foot sophomore Brook Lopez. Lopez should continue to demonstrate his efficient scoring, rebounding and shot blocking in his second season. He may never be a super star but Lopez will continue to provide valuable production at one of the most difficult positions in the NBA.
Courtney Lee should prove another valued piece to the Nets franchise. Though he doesn’t excel in any one area, Lee should develop into a strong two-way player who’ll act as a dependable backcourt running mate to a scoring wing.
And signing that scoring wing in 2010, not winning games, is the key goal of this franchise headed into the 2009-10 season. Bobby Simmons, Rafer Alston, Tony Battie, Trenton Hassell, Jarvis Hayes, these guys may as well stay home – they aren’t coming back next season. Preserving cap space and developing the team’s young core of Harris, Lopez, and Lee are the keys to this Nets season and if that means losing a lot of games than that only improves the Nets chances in the draft lottery, giving them one more asset to dangle in front of Lebron in July 2010. And that’s what this season’s all about.
Predicted 2009-10 Season Record: 28-54